Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Big Law: The Importance of Developing a Supreme Court Practice

Practicing before the Supreme Court has become a specialized practice with relatively few lawyers making a great number of the arguments. Contributing to this phenomenon is a financial consideration. Here is an excerpt from an interview with Paul Smith, a leading advocate who is about to leave private practice to enter the world of legal education and to take a larger part in voting rights cases:

How important is a Supreme Court and appellate practice for firms today and is it financially remunerative?

It is a tough environment, especially for Supreme Court arguments these days. People are aggressively pricing themselves down to keep the volume up and offering to do what they wouldn’t normally do. If you want to be on the map, you have to have a certain volume of cases you can point to. That’s particularly difficult if you don’t have someone coming from a firm with experience or from the SG office (Office of Solicitor General).

The SG’s office is becoming particularly important as a source of experienced lawyers. But I think it is essential to have this practice for a firm to be able to market itself as a first-rate, national firm with first-rate litigation skills. You have to be able to say, “We have the ability to take this case all the way” and will bring to it the kind of talent an appellate practice recruits. There’s a reason every firm in town is trying to market this practice—it’s important to go to the market with first-rate credentials and it’s absolutely essential to hiring the best associates.

You can read the rest of the interview here at Law.com.



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